Temporary Disabilities

Students with temporarily disabling conditions that are a result of injuries, surgery, or short-term medical conditions may need access to campus services and resources similar to students with permanent disabilities.

"Temporary" can range from a few weeks to a year or more, depending on the injury or condition, and the definition recognized by the college or university.

Examples of temporary disabilities may include, but are not limited to:

  • broken limbs,
  • hand injuries,
  • short term impairments following surgery or medical treatments
  • impairments due to concussions
  • after-effects of illnesses such as mono
  • severe reactions to medications
  • acute psychiatric conditions

Common colds, flu without severe complications, bronchitis, minor sprains, and other, less severe conditions or illnesses are not usually considered "temporary disabilities."

Academic Accommodations

Just as in the case of permanent disabilities, accommodations are approved on a case-by-case basis and are determined by identifying barriers in the environment.

Examples of accommodations for temporary physical injuries might include things like:

  • Scribe for exams
  • Notetaking assistance
  • Audio recorder for lectures
  • Extended testing time
  • A computer for essay exams
  • Accessible parking (this is usually arranged through county or local agencies, not the school)
  • Use of elevators that might normally be restricted
  • Relocated class or other meeting rooms
  • Assistance with Dining Services

Accommodations for temporary illnesses, psychiatric conditions, and similar situations might include these and others:

  • Excused absences beyond the class policy
  • Reduced course-loads
  • Designated spaces on campus to rest, especially for commuting students
  • Extended testing time

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A 2014 ruling by the Fourth Circuit Court in 2014 determined that the ADA Amendments Act considers severe temporary impairments (those of 6 months or less) to be “disabilities” and protects people who have them [Summers vs. Altarum Institute Corp., No. 13-1645 (4th Cir. January 23, 2014)].

Be sure to check out the NCCSD Clearinghouse for more information designed for Current College Students.

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